I know AP’s who have taken the route of “my child isn’t going to have ‘issues’.” That’s about the most detrimental environment that an AP can establish for an adoptee. It’s the textbook example of how NOT to raise your adopted child.
I know AP’s who tell themselves, “If I say or don’t say, if I do or don’t do the right things then my adopted child will be just fine,” or the classic, “As long as I don’t bring it up or make it an issue, then my child won’t bring it up and won’t have issues about being adopted.”
These AP’s tell themselves, “I don’t want to mention it if the child doesn’t mention it, because I might somehow plant some kind of seed and cause the child to have issues.”
Besides the fact that such assumptions indicate that the adoptive parents are focusing more on themselves and their wants, and less on the needs of the adopted child, the seed is already there. It was planted the moment the original mother left. It’s not going anywhere. You can choose to ignore it, but it will still continue to take root and grow.
You can try to neglect it, smother it, kill it, but by doing so, you are destroying a part of the identity of the child you claim to love.
To choose ignorance is hurtful to your adopted child. You are teaching your child denial, because you yourself are practicing denial.
I know you think that you’ll be there for the child if the topic should ever arise, if issues should ever become apparent. But by that time, your child won’t want to turn to you, because you never made the efforts or took the steps to create a relationship or an environment of openness and communication about being adopted.
By not initiating conversations about it, you will teach your child to deny, ignore, suppress the deepest of pain and sorrow, and by doing so, to deny, ignore, and suppress a valid and significant part of his or her identity.
Of course, a six-year old child is going to appear well adjusted and happy. Or tell me what average seven-year old naturally spends his time thinking about the meaning of life? Or what five-year old is in touch with the emotions of abandonment, grief, and loss enough to tell an adult, unless a parent has taken the time to draw the child out and teach them that these deep and intense emotions are okay to express?
Adopted children will already naturally suppress what they're feeling. They don't want to endanger their position in the family. They fear if they bring it up, the AP will get angry or upset or will feel as though the adopted child is being ungrateful. Unless you communicate and teach your adopted child that it is safe to talk about his or her thoughts and emotions, questions and sadness about being adopted, he or she will by default, remain silent.
AP's who assume a child will naturally initiate a conversation about the loss and grief from being adopted demonstrate a fundamental ignorance and misunderstanding of what it means to be adopted.
I know AP’s think they’re “doing good” by neglecting their child’s pain and loss. But they’re throwing away precious opportunities and time to build a relationship of openness and communication with the adopted child while also suppressing all the pain and loss for a later time, when they instead could be equipping their child with the emotional and communication tools to deal with the loss and grief.
Do you assume that your child will learn all by himself to eat the foods that are good for him? Do you assume that your child will know how to heal his wounds if he falls off his bike and cuts open his head? Do you assume that your child will know all on her own how to cope with the death of grandma? Do you assume that your child will never have issues if she is consistently teased and ridiculed at school?
In other words, the ones who need to be reading this blog post and other adult adoptee blogs are most often the ones who avoid them...
(But if you are reading this, even though it's difficult, I applaud you. Although I may sound harsh, please know, I don't mean to sound as such. That is not my heart. I am simply trying to speak honestly and sincerely.)
I have more to write regarding this topic, which come in a later post...